We’re excited to announce our investment in Revivn. We introduced Revivn to Urban.Us Network 6 weeks ago. It’s hard not to love the idea of turning an eWaste problem into new education opportunities for less fortunate communities. Revivn already work with many companies in NYC like Razorfish, Thrillist and Undercurrent and you can see examples of their potential impact.We thought we’d share some of the discussion behind the decision. A few potential issues surfaced in the online discussion.

On the supply side, can Revivn convince firms that re-purposing can be done in a way that doesn’t put corporate data at risk? Will enough businesses be sufficiently motivated to serve their local communities?

Here are a few thoughts on each of these issues.

In the short and even medium term it’s not clear that firms (primarily financial services) are going to stop destroying hardware as a means to ensure it’s security. But plenty of other organizations will be satisfied with approaches to erase drives or swapping out hard drives. And this is where the team is focused.

Spend some time with Anthony and John and their enthusiasm is infectious. It’s no wonder one of their most effective approaches to finding clients is to simply present what they do at lunch and learn sessions. Certainly in the “do things that don’t scale” phase, but it’s very effective.

And on the demand side: What happens if Chromebook and Android hardware prices continues to fall? Does the universe of people who need lower cost hardware grow or shrink in the coming decade?

Interestingly, initial indications are the demand is already high. Communities benefiting from Revivn are already talking and generating inbound interest.

But back to the questions. Are we betting against Moore’s law? We don’t think so. Rather, we’re betting that are 2 year old high end mobile phone or 4 year old high end laptop can be competitive with new entry level devices. Think basic Asus Chromebook versus 4 year old Macbook Pro. A lot will be determined by price, which in turn will be determined by last mile transport and refurbishment.

Finally, most cities have widely contrasting income levels as evidenced by the map below of the Gold Coast . Light blues are income levels of $20,000 and lower. Pinks are $100,000 and up.

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These maps (you can see many more cities from Radical Cartography) reveal Revivn’s opportunity to scale to cities around the world. It’s what gives them a shot at taking from the rich to give to their poor neighbors, without stealing from anyone.

We’re excited to welcome John and Anthony to Urban.Us!

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